I recently attempted to read a novel that presented a story from several different points of view. One chapter would show the action through the eyes of a banker trying to protect a young man. In the next, it would switch to describing the activities of the authorities trying to find the young man. Occasionally we learned of things that could only be known by the young man himself. I never finished the book. This does not happen to me very often. I found it just too difficult to keep track of who was doing what. This book was making me work way too hard.
Interestingly enough, in my WIP I am having a difficulty which would be overcome by telling the story from different points of view. The human characters in the Caribbean Adventure Series include a main character and his two side kicks. One of the sidekicks is a bossy girl who keeps butting in to tell the story from her point of view. After my experience with the novel mentioned above and having read the posts on Point of View by Shauna Roberts, I am determined to stave off my character’s efforts to be in charge. I am the boss, after all … aren’t I?
I recognize that in the novel I recently tried to read, one of the problems is that the characters and their foreign names were too similar and so it was difficult for me to distinguish one from the others. I have read other books that have switched points of view from chapter to chapter successfully, although it still made me a bit uncomfortable. This discomfort is even more marked if I connect with one “narrator” more than the other.
Am I just too feeble minded to read books above a certain level of complexity? How do you feel about novels that purposely move between two or (heaven forbid) more points of views?
(Originally posted on Novel Spaces on August 28, 2010)